The minimally conscious state and recovery potential: a follow-up study 2 to 5 years after traumatic brain injury

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2005 Apr;86(4):746-54. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2004.11.004.


Objective: To document recovery in persons who were in the minimally conscious state (MCS) for at least 1 month after traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Design: Patient series.

Setting: Participants who had been discharged from an inpatient rehabilitation unit.

Participants: Eighteen people with TBI and their relatives.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: Western Neuro Sensory Stimulation Profile, Disability Rating Scale (DRS), FIM instrument, Dementia Rating Scale, and Sydney Psychosocial Reintegration Scale (SPRS).

Results: Level of functioning at follow-up varied from extremely severe disability or greater on the DRS (n=4) to mild disability (n=1). These outcomes were corroborated by results of the FIM and the Dementia Rating Scale. All participants experienced some (44%) or major (56%) change in their level of psychosocial functioning on the SPRS compared with their preinjury level. There were no significant correlations between duration of time in the MCS and outcome on FIM, DRS, or SPRS.

Conclusions: These results highlight the heterogeneity of outcome even after a prolonged duration of MCS after TBI. A large proportion of the patients was functionally independent in basic daily activities, although all experienced residual impairments and disabilities. The low correlation coefficients between duration of MCS and the outcome measures suggest that prognostic statements based on length of time a person is in the MCS cannot be made with confidence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Persistent Vegetative State / rehabilitation*
  • Recovery of Function* / physiology
  • Time Factors